Jim Patton, Author . Forge $24.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0649-4

In the three years since his ace debut, The Shake, Patton has sharpened his already considerable thriller skills. His second crime novel is an outrageously sad, mordantly hilarious story of love gone wrong. When Max Travis (a Portland, Ore., prosecutor with a high conviction record and a low score on lasting relationships, whom Patton introduced in The Shake) meets Dana Waverleigh (a beautiful blonde hairdresser with two children, three ex-husbands and a stupefyingly low sense of self-esteem), the results are literally lethal. Max thinks he's finally met the girl of his dreams—the one who will put up with his workaholic ways—and she sees a pleasant guy who might keep her and her sleazy boyfriend, Jack Nizhl, up-to-date on a murder investigation that involves them both. Complicating matters deeply is Jack's partner in crime, Nicky Bortolotti, a psychotic, racist crankhead who models himself on the Edward G. Robinson character in Little Caesar and whose chosen method of picking up women involves a loaded shotgun. There's a small problem of balance, since the lowlifes—including Dana, a touching figure pulled down into the mire on virtually every occasion—are more compelling than Max and his cop and bartender buddies. But Patton is so good at bringing his bloody story to life that readers will probably wind up sharing the praise that George Pelecanos—no slouch at orchestrating colorful violence himself—lavishes on Patton in a back-cover blurb. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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